A Man Escaped

"Excellent"

A Man Escaped Review


A Man Escaped succeeds simply as the most tingly, tension-filled prison escape caper you'll ever see, but given that the prison in question is Nazi sadist Klaus Barbie's holding pen for condemned French resistance fighters, the story, which is based on true events, becomes a good vs. evil parable for the ages.

Lieutenant Fontaine (François Leterrier) is no coward. As the story begins, he's attempting to hurl himself from the car carrying him into the prison, which is located in Lyon, France. But rather than simply shoot him when he succeeds in briefly getting away, his Nazi captors pistol-whip him and deliver him to the prison alive, where they hope to pump him for information.

Life inside quickly becomes a routine of emptying slop buckets, waiting for hearings in front of Barbie, and listening to the frequent executions that take place in the prison courtyard. But Fontaine isn't discouraged. Sharp as a tack, he begins to plan an escape immediately. Learning all he can by tapping on the walls to communicate with his neighbors, he takes stock of the layout and rhythms of the prison and the guards' movements to come up with ideas. He soon discovers that he can disassemble his cell's wooden door, and before long he's taking secret nighttime strolls around the jail to learn more. At the same time, he's fashioning yards of handmade rope, and he even manages to make a few grappling hooks.

Since conversation with other prisoners is forbidden, communication takes place only by tapping and with notes slipped into pockets (until the pencil patrol comes around and confiscates all writing implements). Fontaine meets several interesting characters, each displaying his own level of either bravery or resignation. Most notable is a priest, who often passes Fontaine Bible passages to study.

What makes A Man Escaped even more compelling is the fact that much of it takes place in silence. Fontaine provides a laconic matter-of-fact narration about the progress of his escape plans, but most of the action is simply punctuated by a soundtrack of Mozart music, which lends the proceedings an impressive gravitas.

The tension really comes to a boil when Fontaine is suddenly given a cellmate, a 15-year-old French boy who may or may not be an informant. What now? Fontaine knows he can't escape unless he fills the boy in on his plans, but if he does, is he doomed? Suffice it to say the final 20 minutes of the movie are an exquisitely crafted study of suspense.

It's always fun to watch someone go to superhuman lengths to right a wrong. Fontaine is as smart as MacGyver, as brave as John Wayne, and as acrobatic as Spider-Man. He's a mild-mannered hero for all time.

Aka Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut,, A Man Escaped or: The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth.

But first he was imprisoned.



A Man Escaped

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Monday 26th August 1957

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Nouvelles Éditions de Films (NEF), Gaumont

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 31

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Alain Poiré Jean Thuillier

Starring: François Leterrier as Fontaine, Charles Le Clainche as Jost, Maurice Beerblock as Blanchet, Roland Monod as Priest of Leiris, Jacques Ertaud as Orsini, Jean Paul Delhumeau as Hebrard, Roger Treherne as Terry, Jean Philippe Delamarre as Le Prisonnier 110, Jacques Oerlemans as Chief Warden, Klaus Detlef Grevenhorst as L'Officier de L'Abwehr, Leonhard Schmidt as Escort Guard, Roger Planchon as Guard on a Bike

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.